Saturday, May 30, 2009


I always have mixed emotions when I set off on my long runs. It feels great to get out and escape, but as my feet leave my porch I wonder what would happen if I just ran right back inside and plopped down on the couch with a bag of doritos? As quickly as I can push the thought away it fades into the distance and I fall into the familiar rythm of a 10 minute pace. The first mile is always messy, and I suck in air as I wait at the first cross light. When the little man says to walk, I take off running, and soon my body stops screaming and just glides along. I know I am slow compared to most runners, but I run my own race, and am just thankful I am able to run at all with 5 brain tumors and 4 spine surgeries under my water belt. I take in the beautiful mountains and as it becomes challenging to meet my pace my thoughts dissolve into simple mantras. Determind... strong... run... I let my mind think only positive thoughts as I fly along the trail. Health is a necessity, but skinny is a benefit... pain is temporary but pride is forever... it's better than brain surgery... and as I struggle to the top of a hill I ask aloud, "Is that all you've got?!" As I fly down the other side the answer comes with a smile... determined... strong... run...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sharing the Brain Tumors

I am the only one in my family who is allowed to have a brain tumor. I have 5, that is more than enough for the 4 of us.

Over the last 6 months my husband Paul has been having health problems. It started with headaches, lethargy, and swollen lympth nodes behind his ears. It progressed to bouts of depression and problems with his hormones and cholesterol levels. After months of assuming it could be nothing serious, yesterday Paul was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma.

From what I understand, if you are going to have a brain tumor, a pituitary adenoma is one of the most common and easily treatable when caught early. Paul's has been caught so early that they underlined tiny on his MRI report. What I do not understand is if it is so tiny, how is it causing so many problems? The pituitary gland itself is very small, so even a tiny tumor is cause for alarm, especially when it is symptomatic as Paul's has been.

For once, Paul is lucky to have a wife with NF2. I know all the best neurologists and we are informed of the treatment options. Watch and wait, drug therapy, surgery, radiation. I've gone through all of these, and oddly, Paul says he is excited to experience a bit of what I have gone through in order to understand me more.

My concern, he says that now. If he does end up having Gamma Knife as the endocrinologist suggested, he would have the frame bolted to his head and be locked into a machine to have hundreds of gamma rays focused at one area in his brain. Paul is strong and would no doubt come out unscathed, so the next time I need treatment is he going to hold me to his 1 tumor standards? Will that be the least of my concerns in the long run? These tumors can cause seizures and dizziness, Paul is an ironworker. This could affect his entire career, and our financial stability.

In the end... or actually the beginning... I just want Paul to not have a tumor. I stare at his head instead of focusing on whatever random tv show we are watching, wishing I could just reach in and pull it out. I want to only be concerned for his health, but keep selfishly considering the ramifications to myself as well. So maybe we both are getting a glimpse of the other side of the fence.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thus Spoke JT

God is dead. This is what my 6 year old came and told me the other day. It wasn't the first time, but this time he seemed a bit more determined to get some answers out of me. His best friend is Christian, and in reference to Jesus keeps insisting God is dead. JT has no idea who Jesus is, or how he could be God, and seems confused by the entire idea. Really, who isn't? So I told JT God is not dead, She will live forever, and we all came from her. In the past this was sufficient, but this time he dug his little heels in, and said no, God is dead! I really am not ready to discuss with him the complexities of philosophy. I don't want to tell him that people worship different variations of God. I don't want to tell him people go to war over it, and vote over it, and generally do not agree on it at all. How can I tell him one minute that all love comes from God, and the next inform him that most war does as well? He is too little to separate the idea of religion from spirituality. So I give him the same answer we all believed when we were little: God created you, He loves you, He will live forever, and He cannot die.

Why can't we all keep it that simple?

Friday, May 22, 2009

A New Goal!

Sometimes you just have to purge, and let go of things holding you back. Whether its a bad habit or a pile of clothes you never wear, letting go frees you to utilize that space more effectively. I wont allow any negativity around me anymore, I cannot afford it. I don't know how long I have to live my life the way it is now, but I intend to enjoy every minute of it.

My trip to Stanford is all set! Is it wrong to be excited to have radiation therapy? I figure by assuming the treatment will be fun I can face the reality with a better outlook. An IV is nothing compared to running 13 miles in Southern California sun! Fatigue? I'm fatigued evertime I run a 9 minute mile! Possible nausea? Maybe I'll finally kick those last 2 pounds! Setting specific goals that stretch over and past those things we may not want to do is the best way to beat through them. So, the day I have Cyberknife treatment, I am going to run a 5K! I'll map a run around the hospital, and wear my CTF Endurance Team singlet with pride!

What goals have you set for yourself? What are you doing today to reach them?
*Never Give Up Hope!*

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Looking Forward

I am officially registered as a student at Chaffey College... again. I have my AA already, but want to go back and take the classes that interested me, but were not useful toward my degree. I am nervous to sit in a classroom full of students a bit younger than I am, with a transcriptionist following me to each class setting up and typing everything being said for me. I am incredibly lucky to be able to attend classes and have a transcriptionist, but no one wants everyone to turn and stare at them on the first day of school!

I have to let the negative just fall behind me, as I always do, and look ahead to my goals. I already have taken several fashion design classes, and plan to take all of the sewing classes so I can make extra cash doing alterations and private sales. At the same time I plan on taking more ASL classes, philosophy, religion, and of course creative writing!! I think it would be great if everyone had the chance to pursue an education that includes the things that really interest them, I am so blessed to be able to, and am anxious to get started! Fall is going to be amazing, Mica will be in school in the mornings, allowing me to train for my marathon without having to leave her with a sitter. My mornings will be filled with higher learning and faster running! *Never give up hope*

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


With my husband working out of town I find myself alone for long stretches of time. During the day the kids and training keep me busy, after we all spill back into the condo and follow the usual routine, minus the part where Paul walks in and we all jump on him. I'm getting some real quality time with the kids playing Life after dinner at the table, Paul's empty chair the pink elephant in the room. At 8 my babies are tucked in tight and I face my empty living room or cold bed, unsure of what to do with myself. I try to text Paul, and get back a few flimsy messages, I give up and let him be. I stare at Facebook for a while, realizing I just don't care. I think of all the things I could be working on, fundraising, brainstorming... and settle for some Tivo time instead. At the funny parts I awkwardly laugh, feeling like I am talking to myself, and finally give up and drag myself to bed. I'm still afraid of the dark after all these years, and as each room is darkened behind me my pace quickens until I leap into our bed. I worry my deafness will cause me to sleep through the worst of emergencies. Shadows dance in our hallway, and I miss the curve of Paul's shoulders breaking my moonlight view of the creepy closet. I hug my pillow tight and sleep, what else would there be to do? Fitful, restless sleep, waking with a start only to drift back off. I wake up around 2 to find both my babies have crawled into bed with me, and along with the dog we make a warm little pile of happiness. I finally sleep a dreamless sleep.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Top 10 Oh Honey No's

1. Ponytails right on top of your head, doesn't that hurt?

2. Skinny jeans on big people... do I really have to explain that one?

3. White girls who shave their eyebrows off and crimp their hair with Rave... oh don't worry I'm not laying it all on the white people...

4. 40 year old Latinas who still wear black lipliner, caked face makeup, tons of black eyeliner, draw their eyebrows, bleach their hair and feather it (!) and wear clothes 3 sizes too small that shouldn't even be allowed on any of their 4 teenaged daughers. You look like the cry later mask, and Mi Vida Loca came out 15 years ago.

5. Leggings worn as pants, especially with a waist length tight tank top. I know this may be difficult for the younger generation so I will explain. Once upon a time women wore these things called panty hose, but they didn't go with all shoes, so somebody, probably a man, invented leggings. They actually originally had stirrups, but I don't want to scare anyone so we'll leave that be... anywhore... they are meant to be worn UNDER a dress or tunic top, something that covers your flat but and muffin top.

6. Tiny ponytails that stick straight out like Olive Oil's bun, they just irritate me.

7. Scene/emo kid haircuts. Nobody thinks you are cool, all of us are wondering where your mother is and why she hates you that much. For the older generation this time, I will explain. A scene cut is typically an asymmetrical short cut, as in those ugly kids walking around with half a shaved head and bangs obscuring 90% of their field of vision.

8. Mom jeans, even worn ironically. Camel toes will never be in style.

9. Wearing a bikini with your tummy hanging out over it, claiming you are comfortable enough with your body. What about the rest of us?

10. Party Moms, with your fake boobs and "Coach" purse, in Juicy sweats that were cute 5 years ago with some huge plastic platforms and long leopard print acrylic nails with a bleached ratty weave down to your waist, a nautical star tattoo and a tramp stamp... all while your child is running around in Garanimal sweats 2 sizes too small.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Tish

My Mom once told me she was happy I have a stepmom like Tish to help me through the rest of my life I would have to live without her. She knew that the day I got married, Tish would fit my veil and fluff my dress, and that Tish would be at my college graduation, and that I would turn to her for the advice my Mom would be unable to provide. I can't imagine, as a Mother, how painful that would be. Tish is the one who pointed all of this out to me. Tish is the first one in my life to ever give me an ongoing stable source of constructive criticism. She has become the rock in our family, the person who doesn't allow my Dad and I to feel sorry for ourselves or get away with the debauchery of years past. Before Tish, there were no expectations, only a liberal-hippie parallel existence between my Dad and I. She swept in quietly, respectful of her boundaries, and then slowly knocked them all down and slapped a bit of sense into us all. She's brutally honest, and as the saying goes she suffers no fools. She's also really fun to get drunk with and always provides free liquor and food, people love her for that, especially me! She did fluff my dress on my wedding day, the wedding that she planned within a week and people still talk about to this day. She did celebrate my college graduation with me, and bought me pearls while telling me that every woman needs pearls. I do turn to her for advice, and when I don't, she still gives it to me, and I don't know what I would do without it.
Happy Mother's Day Grantish!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Disattachment Parenting

As a child I was forced to eat the vegetables on my plate, and I don't suffer from allergies or anorexia. I was spanked when I didn't behave, and I am not violent or damaged. My parents would fight and make up in front of me, and I have a perfectly healthy marriage. My mom didn't carry me around all the time and I am completely secure. I was teased, I was made to do chores, and I knew if I ran my mouth I would get smacked. There are way too many bratty whiny crayola named kids running around in Crocs covered head to toe in sun block on a cold winter day with hawkish Moms begging them to please behave. I actually don't blame these Moms, I blame the media for attempting to instill fear in us at every turn. (Know anyone with Swine Flu?) When I turned to the internet to find a remedy for Mica's thumb-sucking I read that if I force her to stop she may suffer from self-esteem issues and to gently discuss with her the ramifications of thumb sucking instead. She is 2. I'm going to put duct tape on her thumb and flick her hand everytime it goes near her mouth. If she calls me stupid (again) I'm going to whack her on the butt. If JT doesn't finish his dinner, and is hungry an hour later, he is going to be hungry. Don't fear for my children, I am pretty sure they will survive.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Milk is for Babies

No other species drinks the milk of another species. No other animal drinks milk past infanthood. Milk is meant to encourage growth in the offspring of the nursing creature. Dairy cows are kept in horrible, tight, cramped conditions. They are unable to even turn around or lay down for hours at a time. When they give birth to a calf the baby is immediately taken away, and the cows are known to cry and bellow, kicking the walls in their tiny dirty stalls in pain. If you don't care about how the cows are treated, then consider the disgusting health conditions of thousands of dirty cows in the heat covered with flies dripping their mastitis infected pus into the milk that is forced out of them by hormone abuse. Milk is nothing but fat and cholesterol, all the nutrients the dairy association has convinced you that you "need" from milk can easily be attained by other healthier sources. The calcium so highly touted by the dairy conglomerates actually comes from the plants the cows eat! Cheese, butter, all other dairy products contain even higher levels of cholesterol and fat than plain milk. Stop drinking dairy, and see how quickly you stop bloating throughout the week.

Personally I still struggle with cheese. I have easily replaced milk with vitamin enriched rice milk, and yogurt with SO Good coconut milk yogurt. But cheese, my evil lover, I give you up and you are back the next day, covering a delicious piece of veggie pizza. Hey, I'm working on it, and I will get there!

I don't give my children milk either, and limit their other dairy intake. I like to think I am raising them to view animals and simple creatures who inhabit the Earth the same as we do, not walking vending machines put here for our unappreciative abuse. My kids don't go to the circus, where beautiful wild animals are dragged from town to town in cages. They only eat meat when we visit other people's houses, and I hope that eventually they choose not to eat carcass at all. I do leave that decision up to them, and as of now JT is a proud little carnivore.

My little Mica, Paul thought he had her on his nasty flesh eating side, but Mica adores animals. She has since she was very litte, and I have a feeling as insensitive as she can be that God's furry creatures are her soft spot. At Amy's Farm yesterday we saw a cow, and the other Moms asked their children what comes from cows, to which they smartly replied Milk! I asked Mica, baby what comes from a cow? She said... "a baby cow!" That's my girl.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


The day my Mom passed away I stopped at her nursing home still in shock, and walked into her room half-expecting her to be asleep in the little bed. It was neatly made with a stack of packages where her feet had once been. I glanced at her collection of photos, taped allover the small wall unit her bed was pressed up against, and saw the little ceramic pot I had made her in high school. I took it and stared at the tiny heart I had carved out of the bottom. I forced myself to just put it in my bag, and turned my attention to the packages. One held a little Blue's Clue's outfit she had obviously meant for JT. I pressed it to my chest and then we left, the only other item I took was the blanket she always draped across her legs. She was always cold.

At first remnants of my Mom were allover our apartment. The blanket, the little pot, a card she had sent, a stack of photos with her and JT sleeping, toys she had surprised him with, pajamas she had handed down to me, magazines she had finished reading. Piece by piece they disappeared, until one day I realized all that remained were the blanket, pot, and a Blue's Clue's mailbox she had been incredibly excited to order from a catalog for JT. Playing into his Blue's Clue's obsession had been her way of desperately attempting to be part of his daily life from the confines of her bed. JT has long since given up on Blue's Clue's, and when Paul suggested we give away that mailbox I gave him the Hello Kitty Deathstare until he nervously backed away.

Now several years have passed, and whole days, maybe even weeks, can pass by without the stab of pain I thought would never go away. I was right, it hasn't, but now it is dull rather than piercing and elicits only the occasional tear rather than muffled sobs. I can speak freely of her memories with a smile, and only in rare moments am I startled to realize I am crying, hastily wiping the tears I promised her I would not shed.

Last week I went through JT's old clothes I had saved and found the Blue's Clue's outfit my Mom never had the chance to watch him open. She no doubt had planned to pull out her little disposable camera, snapping pictures of his delighted cherubic smiles for her to look at when we were home and she was alone. At bedtime I pulled the pants and shirt onto Mica, proud of myself for storing them long enough to pass the magic down to my baby who never even had a chance to meet her namesake. Mica smiled and squealed "Blue's Clue's!" signing it the same way JT had as a toddler, momentarily taking me back in time, as though I would look up and see my Mom happily taking her picture too.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Crossing the Finish Line!

My... abs.... hurt... I have been so focused on them over the last week they just screech everytime I take a step. Adding fast sprints to my shorter runs has really given my training a much needed kick in the ass. My girlfriend Jolene and I have started doing some runs together, and it is so refreshing to have company and not be the only lunatic flailing down the road. Today we're running the 3 miles to the gym, weight training, then running back and doing yoga at my place. I'm actually looking forward to it, and know I will be deliciously sore tomorrow. Even now my mind's eye is distracted, tempted to put on my shoes and just run straight to the top of Day Creek where I can look out over the entire city and then enjoy the windy jog back down. I just have to avoid the black hole of the sofa, and stop taking little "vacations" from my routine for every tiny reason, and the next thing I know I will be crossing the marathon finish line in Long Beach and partying on the beach without hiding under a cover up!

As CTF Team Captain I'm encouraging all of you to join us in Long Beach and get running! We have a team of 433 Ironworkers running the 5k, and a team of local Mommy's walking the 5K in tiaras, a couple of friends are signing up for the 1/2 and full, and there will definitely be an after party so we can down a few much deserved ice cold beers! If you are interested then sign up here with the NF Endurance Team, then go here and sign up for your event at the race registration website! If you plan on running the full in around 5 hours contact me, I would love to have someone to run with, so who wants to cross the finish line with me?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fundraising Time!

With only 5 months until I run the full 26.2 mile marathon in Long Beach for CTF, I am officially kicking off my 2009 fundraising campaign! Last year we raised over $3000, this year CTF is earmarking all the funds I raise specifically for NF2, and I have a new goal of $5000! As a community we can reach that goal and truly make a difference in the fight against NF2! Check out my brand new Active Donation Page and let me know what you think!

Stay tuned and check back here often for updates on the fundraiser, my running, and new contests to raise extra money for the cause!

Friday, May 1, 2009


2 nine minute miles followed by 2 miles of 2 minute hard intervals. That is my favorite new run! Hard enough to make my abs ache when I try to run after Mica, but short enough that I am not motivated to eat everything in my house within hours of finishing my protein shake. With Paul home a lot more lately my workout routine has been de-prioritized, and I am struggling to find the time to run the 20 miles a week I have committed too. People have told me running is just my hobby, and such is life. If you ever call running a hobby, then you don't know me very well. Runner defines me as much as Mother does, and we all have the right to be the person we see ourselves as. So I squeeze in my hard run and breathe deeply 3 times instead of 5 in each yoga pose, I sneak in my 200 sit ups while the kids take a bath, and politely decline a 2nd glass of wine over dinner. So every moment I am consumed by my responsibilities I am still living as a runner, because when you run you are a runner between runs no matter how far in between they may be.
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